Sorry to “should” on you before we’ve even really gotten started, but this is an important topic, no matter where you are in your writing career. I mean, we’re writers – so we need time to write. Obviously. But life is so full, and there are so many tasks, distractions, and people that the day can fly by without a moment to put pen to paper, or hands to keyboard. That’s not okay.
Despite the fact that most of us creative types are too wild for mundane things like day planners and Google calendars (except perhaps for the, ahem, Virgos among us, me included), I’m going to advocate for scheduling your writing time. I’m not trying to be all horror movie scary here, really. Before you run off screaming, hear me out.
I mean, I get it. I resist such things, too. I’m quite organized in some areas of my life, but my creative projects are often less so – and I’d come to believe that it’s because I like it that way.
Then I signed up for a business coaching program. I have an online business that’s related to my writing, and I wanted to find direction and guidance in my search for better ways to (ethically) market my books and other products. The course began with an excellent bonus call that was all about time management.
We were led through an eye-opening exercise where we evaluated what we spend our time on currently, and how we’d like to change that. Yikes. I saw clearly how my writing was getting lost in the shuffle. An intention came to me in a flash: “I want my writing to be as high up on my priority list as my family.”
Woah. That’s a radical thought – especially from me. I’ve homeschooled my two teens their entire lives, and I have a close-knit extended family as well. Family is, like, huge in my world.
It felt good, though, to think about putting my writing on par with the time I spend with family members. It felt like I was honoring my creative side in a whole new way.
Scheduling daily writing time isn’t really a new idea. When you read advice from well-known and best-selling authors, having a regular time to write each day is one of the most common suggestions. Even if there are days when you just show up and stare at the blank page, or do writing that you later discard, the idea is to create a dedicated space. You’re making a container of sorts, in which the muse can show up when it will.
When you train your mind (and body) to do this one thing each day at a particular time, you’re setting up a positive habit. It doesn’t have to be a chore, and really, it shouldn’t. Make your writing time as comfortable as possible. I like to sit at the kitchen table with my laptop in the mid-morning, in my PJs, with a cup of tea or a fruit smoothie nearby.
The best way to get started is to just… do it. If you actually do use a planner or calendar, add your writing time to it. In pen. Let your family members, roommates, or four-legged friends know that this is your time and you shouldn’t be disturbed (I know, the cats won’t listen, but they’re good lap snugglers).
Make your daily writing time non-negotiable.
If you have a day job, kids and pets, housework, and other daily responsibilities (and who doesn’t have at least some of these?), you might start with just a small chunk of time. You’re a writer, you’re here as part of ROW 80, so I know you care about your craft. I’m sure you can carve out 20 minutes for your writing each day, right?
Try committing to daily writing for a set length of time. One Round, for example, or maybe a month. Do your best to honor your writing commitment each day. When (not if – you know it will happen) you have a day where you just don’t get to it, forgive yourself. Start over the next day, and the next. Keep going.
If you can do that, you’re well on the way to establishing a solid writing habit. As time goes by, your muse will drop by more and more often, knowing that you’re ready to play. You’ll find yourself feeling inspired, and writing furiously, going beyond the length of time you’re set aside, and eager to get back to your project the next day.
And that’s really the fun part of this whole writer’s life, right?